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Velvet Assassin Review

Velvet Assassin lets you take control of British spy Violette Summer, tasked to disrupt Axis operations and assassinate high ranking officers; utilising your wits, cunning and liberal use of the shadows to take down the German forces swiftly, silently. On paper, this sounds like a very intriguing title while in theory, however, it falls short of the mark.

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The story of this title is loosely based on the real life actions of one Violette Reine Elizabeth Bushell Szabo, a SOE (Special Operations Executive) operative between the years of 1944 and 1945 where she was sadly captured then executed by German forces. The beginning of the game you're introduced to Violette laying wounded and unconscious in what appears to be a hospital bed. You're then transported back to one of her missions which acts as an introduction to the game mechanics with Violette narrating the flashback. This resembles how Hitman: Blood Money started off, by this I mean where the protagonist 're-lives' past missions before the time line caught up with current events in the game.

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As you progress through this tutorial level you'll become adept at using the shadows as your main ally, learning patience as you study enemy patrol paths before finally striking swiftly to eliminate your foe, all set on a gorgeous sunset drenched backdrop in some German outpost up in the hills. The stealth mechanic is remarkably simple, when you're hidden from view in the shadows you will emit a soft purple glow around your character as well as around part of your HUD, when you're visible there's no glow, essentially it's taken a step back to basics in terms of stealth games and works surprisingly well.

As beautiful as the locales and the protagonist may be, the game constantly reminds you that you're in a war zone with its harrowing imagery of tortured civilians, the sounds of gunfire followed by screams while travelling through the ghetto's, coming across the letters of love and admiration for the family of that German soldier you just killed in a brutal animation, all designed to play on your own senses as you progress through the game.

It was during this first mission that I encountered the flawed enemy AI, I had just dispatched one patrolling guard in the area where I was tasked to plant the explosives and I left the corpse in plain open view to see what the other guards would do. Well, as expected, they raised an alarm while searching the immediate area. 'Smashing' I thought, ‘could the enemy actually search out the level for myself if I leave a trail of my deeds?' Unfortunately the answer is no, after a brief moment of frantic searching, the guard just simply returned to the set path of his patrol route like nothing had happened.

However if you are spotted in your tasks then they have the alarming trait of homing in on you like a mouse to a piece of cheese. Also, if you are shot at then expect to die very quickly as one or two hits will finish the job off, depending on how well armed the enemy you encounter is but not all is lost in the form of the game's 'oh s**t' button - also known as morphine mode. When morphine is applied the game world essentially freezes, Violette is switched from her current state to a more informal appearance as you run about for a very limited amount of time in her night dress. This allows you to progress tricky areas or let you escape from a horde of German soldiers who you have alerted.

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Now not everything is all cloak and dagger action, there will be moments in the game where you stumble across a conveniently placed shotgun or rifle indicating that you'll have no other option but to shoot your way out of trouble. It does its job in breaking up the stealth element but when it's solely your course of action at the end of the game it feels like the developers ran out of ideas on how to give the game some closure - the scene itself is disturbing enough with a German unit just torching a village to the ground in retaliation for your actions while you try to liberate what little survivors there are, armed with an assault rifle and more ammo than your typical Call of Duty player, but it just felt out of place in a game where you primarily used the shadows to strike from and unfortunately it left a bitter aftertaste in my mouth after the hours of enjoyment the earlier levels gave.

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The control system of the game is very easy to get to grasps with so it wont take the average player long before they are removing German obstacles in their path, while the musical score of the game does a very good job at adding to the already tense atmosphere of the game. Graphically the game does it's job well, all the animations are smooth and flawless while the artwork is detailed and representative of the wartime period.

So in conclusion, Velvet Assassin starts off well indeed, providing tense atmospheric moments while sneaking around German outposts - but is then let down by the inclusion of action sections where all previous skills learned in the art of silent kills are thrown out the window. Add into the equation the questionable AI of the soldiers and you will find that it's very easy to like this game while loathing it at the same time. Ideally, if you have the patience of a saint and are into stealth games then by all means pick this title up, however action junkies need not apply.

 

7.00/10 7

Velvet Assassin (Reviewed on Xbox 360)

This game is good, with a few negatives.

Velvet Assassin lets you take control of British spy Violette Summer, tasked to disrupt Axis operations and assassinate high ranking officers; utilising your wits, cunning and liberal use of the shadows to take down the German forces swiftly, silently. On paper, this sounds like a very intriguing title while in theory, however, it falls short of the mark.

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
Neil 'Wedge' Hetherington

Neil 'Wedge' Hetherington

Staff Writer

A purveyor of strange alcoholic mixes and a penchant for blowing shit up in games. Proud member of the glorious PC master race.

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